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Version Control

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  5,023 ratings  ·  958 reviews
Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 495 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Pantheon
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Amber Edmison So Carlton is a wealthy black character from Fresh Prince who it told he isn't "black enough" throughout the entire show. Will struggled with being…moreSo Carlton is a wealthy black character from Fresh Prince who it told he isn't "black enough" throughout the entire show. Will struggled with being "from the hood" while Carlton essentially, forgive the crassness of the phrase, "acted white".

Spivey calls Carson "Carlton" because, as he says numerous times in the novel, "black people shouldn't be interested in time travel". Remember, Spivey changes his voice depending who he is around. And Carson ALWAYS "acts white" in his opinion.

Carson finally snaps because he doesn't care about race, except he does, as being called "too white" angers him.

It's entirely a race thing.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Community Reviews

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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,023 ratings  ·  958 reviews

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Kevin Kelsey
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An absolute masterpiece of literature, SF or otherwise.
Jessica Woodbury
Every now and then when I'm reading a novel I think, "I want to hold on to this. This is a special experience." I had that thought while reading VERSION CONTROL. I wanted it to last longer, I wanted to read it for a month.

It's not just that I love the way little bits of science-fiction and magical realism suddenly show up in this story, it's also how it manages to be so clearly intelligent and so emotionally wise. If I was on a first date with this book, I'd immediately be trying to figure out
Joachim Stoop
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm afraid Mr. Palmer will never get the cheer and attention he deserves for this novel. I guess because it's too SF for the Literature with capital L-lovers and too literary and 'normal' for the die hard SF-lovers. The thing is: this book is sooo good. The absolute fun I felt reading this is actually quite rare. It contains an avalanche of cool ideas, nerdy views, philosophical and scientific thinking of a level you wouldn't expect to encounter in this genre. The story is totally accomplished, ...more
Andrew Smith
This is a clever story of time travel. This is a long discourse on physics and on scientific minutiae I found hard to track and impossible to fully comprehend. This is a funny story of online dating featuring a future population who live their lives online and seldom meet face to face. This is all of these things. Does it work? Well, sort of… but it is a really strange mix.

Set in the near future, a group of physicists are working to develop a machine they call a Causality Violation Device. The t
Carol (Bookaria)
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, sci-fi, fiction
“Isn’t that the fantasy? If I go back in time, knowing what people back then didn’t know, then I can change history! But history made you what you are. And it’s bigger than any one man.”
― Dexter Palmer, Version Control

This book tells the story of Rebecca whose husband Phillip is a scientist. Phillip works in a lab that is building a "Casuality violation device". Many people refer to this machine as a "time machine" but he would prefer that you do not call it so! This is where the story starts b
Manuel Antão
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, favorites
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Causality Violation SF: “Version Control” by Dexter Palmer

“For months now, Rebecca had felt what she could only describe as a certain subtle wrongness – not within herself, but in the world. She found it impossible to place its source, for the fault in the nature of things seemed to reside both everywhere and nowhere. Countless things just felt a little off to her.”

In “Version Control” by Dexter Palmer
A lot of the debate around this
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

UPDATE 3/13/17 I still don't have a coherent review formulated for this one, but Tournament of Books fans: In a huuuuuge opening-round upset (okay not so huge, as I really didn't much care for Ms. Strout's near-novella-in-length posing as a meaningful sadness treatise), Version Control beats out My Name is Lucy Barton. (Sorry, Strout fans, but Version Control is a really wonderful example of speculative fiction done right, and I could not not be happier for its advance in the ToB '1
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When trying to articulate my thoughts on Version Control, one of my favorite lines from Vonnegut comes to mind - "Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, It might have been."

To say this is a "time travel novel" (don't call it time travel!) feels crazy reductive. To attempt to describe this novel in any few words feels reductive. It's many things at once, and the biggest surprise is that it succeeds thoroughly at being all of them. This is my first time reading Dexter Palmer, and I'm
Carrie Kitzmiller
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Version Control is a book I really wanted to love, but didn't. I'm a time travel sci-fi junkie, and so thought it would be a perfect fit for me. Unfortunately, I think Palmer took too much time before he got to his point. There was a lot of character development and events that didn't seem to really have a lot to do with the overall plot - almost like he couldn't decide if he was writing sci fi or literary fiction. I kept thinking, "Okay, okay, let's move things along!" I almost quit reading hal ...more
Book Riot Community
Almost from the moment I picked it up, I was completely caught up in this book about a woman named Rebecca whose husband is building a causality violation device (not a time machine!). The early chapters of the book read like a typical relationship drama, but it’s set in the near future, and Rebecca gets these occasional feelings that something about the world just isn’t right. Then, everything changes, but no one seems to know it. What’s interesting is that even when circumstances change drasti ...more
Tudor Vlad
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A hidden gem, this is the best way to describe this book. I honestly didn’t think this would be so compelling and smart. It is science fiction but it’s also extremely character-driven, slow and grounded. Sure, there are some ideas in it that are pure science-fiction but most of the ideas explored are already a part of our lives, focusing a lot on what it means to be alive during the information age. It is scary just how relatable it is.

I said that this is a slow book and while that is true, it i
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
"Terence. Hey Terence! Put that book down for a minute and help me bullshit!"

This book was an unexpected treat. I listened to it in audiobook format (I would recommend audio format for this one), and the narrator did an excellent job with the various characters' voices. Coming up with a good quote from every other page of this book wouldn't even be a challenge.

If you go into this expecting, oh... a time travel action-adventure, you're going to be disappointed. This is a sloooow book, however it
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
4.5 stars because DUDE, this was one totally awesome book!

Rebecca's husband is working on a causality violation device, which is called a "time machine" to the dismay of the scientists, while Rebecca goes through life feeling that things are slightly off in everyday life. It seemed like the ultimate deja vu.

We spend quite a bit of time getting to know the characters and the machine but it never becomes dry because there's a good deal of humor throughout. There are also some mind-boggling moments
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
3.5 stars that I’m rounding up based on the crisp, clean writing. This is a subtle SF book, that for my tastes was a bit too slow. Elegant plotting, wonderful use of physics.
4.5 stars. This was fantastic. I loved the writing and the characterization, and the love of science running through this story. (I was reminded of The Unseen World for the science love.) The characters, particularly Rebecca, grabbed me right away, and I liked the way the author considered race, too, through a variety of perspectives. I liked the near future setting, with a logical development of certain technologies (e.g., self-driving cars, even more ruthless use of data science). I also reall ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I stalled at page 267 and then didn't really think I wanted to renew it again at the library. I think I would say there is just not enough going on to read another 250 pages. It might be for you, it wasn't for me.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, audio
4.5 stars

This book was so much more than I expected going in and what I thought the direction it was going to take after reading the first couple of chapters.

Taking place in the not-so-distant future, so much of technological progress could be easily imagined, whether for better or worse. Certainly a lot to think about as we, as a society, seem to be heading in the direction envisioned in this book. I also appreciated the commentary on race and how that plays a part in who we are as individuals
Kyle Muntz
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most important science fiction novel of the 21st century, or at least the one that takes the most steps for the genre. Version Control is a novel of ideas (which touches on pretty much every major concern of the information age), but it's also the closest any SF novel I've read has come to replicating the feel of literary realism, with its focus on real people, their interior lives, and how they interact with their world. It also takes a huge storytelling risk halfway through the no ...more
David Yoon
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rebecca Wright feels like something is off, that the world is upside down. She lives in a near future New Jersey with driverless cars and an omnipresent president that happily introduces every TV show and delivers personalized messages to couples out on a date or families celebrating a birthday. Maybe it’s nothing though, she’s got all the hallmarks of the unreliable narrator we’ve grown used to in fiction. Meanwhile her husband is obsessively working on a causality violation device - which he’s ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I should write a more thorough review but…

(1) This is one hell of a time travel story.

(2) And/but the time travel aspect is not "the point" of the story.

(3) Not since The Intuitionist have a I read a book that dealt with race in this fashion.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm wildly under-qualified to write this book review, to get that out of the way. I have none of the knowledge necessary to make judgments on this book beyond what did and did not work for me explicitly. And since we all know I'm the most fickle of pickles, this is definitely A Mess.

1. As a science fiction book, I was pretty into it. Theories of how to return to a past point in time and space, and how physics would impact such a trip! Needing an exact moment of spacetime to 'anchor' your m
A fantastic melange of philosophy, physics, dystopian near-future, and love story. The author does an impressive job of weaving together different strands of...well, of space-time, incorporating minor discrepancies that can easily slip right by the careless reader and building not one world but three subtly different ones that nevertheless cleanly interlock. And he does it all while making you care about the characters and intensely curious about What Happens Next.

The remarkable thing for me per
Edward Rathke
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is almost too much for me to talk about. It hit me in just about every way that art or a person or an idea can.

Intellectually invigorating, morally interesting, beautifully created characters, a strangeness, an otherness that's deeply unsettling but also feels familiar, like the inside of my own head, like my own thoughts from 2am, and then it's so full of love and fear and tenderness and pain and hope.

I can't remember the last time I read anything that made me feel so much in so many
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with any regrets
Recommended to Alan by: Greg; previous work
Oh, my—yes, please. More like this. Well, not exactly like this, perhaps... Dexter Palmer's second novel Version Control is beautifully self-contained, needing no sequels, prequels or companion works. But more books like this one, with its seamless mix of physics and personality? That'd be most welcome, thanks.

It's confidently written, too—though of course many of Palmer's readers will already know what "version control" is, he waits until page 308 to define it.


Rebecca Wright is a woman in her
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a great novel for me to start 2017 off with! I love unique, complex novels, and Version Control more than fits the bill. Dexter Palmer is a great writer, and he's crafted a riveting work of science fiction. It was unlike anything I've ever read.

Version Control takes place in a slightly future, slightly alternate universe to ours. The President is an omnipresent figure who appears on your TV or on your phone call without warning. There are self-driving cars. Reagan is on the twenty-dollar bi
the gift
230917: if there is a platonic ideal for a science fiction novel crossed with literary novel, this is possibly it. like decathlon athletes are very good in several ways- just not world best in any one. this is a very good novel. this is an easy read, integrates credible science, believable scientific work, perceptive character and world building. my father is retired chemical physics Prof and so i have had the privilege of seeing science and learning how it is done, how to interact, how to appre ...more
Greg Zimmerman
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(First appeared at

Every year, there's at least one novel that catches me unawares for how much I love, and for which I wind up being an un-shut-up-able evangelist. This year, that novel is Dexter Palmer's fantastic, fiercely smart, mind-bendingly fun novel, Version Control.

This 500-page story is brimming with ideas — about technology, authenticity, race, loyalty, causality, history, science, Big Data, and yes, even time travel. It's fascinating and fun
Tara - Running 'n' Reading
I was really excited about this one, mostly because of the description and the pre-release buzz; in addition, this author is new to me and this type of read is a little different than my usual choices. I have to admit that, even when I was dying to finish (sometimes out of boredom), the novel remained intriguing to me. This was one of those experiences where I kept reading, holding out for a miracle, because I just knew that something amazing would happen and I would be able to shout about this ...more
Back in 2010, I read Dexter Palmer's first novel, The Dream of Perpetual Motion, and I did not like it much. Seven years later I confess that it was more a case of I didn't get it. I was ignorant of the steampunk genre back then so had no way to determine how or if his steampunk setting was any good. Compounding my ignorance, I somehow missed that it was a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest not to mention that as of 2010 I had not read The Tempest. My apologies to Dexter Palmer. I will give ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think I've given myself enough space from this book to write a review.

I really, really loved this book. I'd say it's capital "L" literature with a heavy sci-fi / speculative fiction component. And yet, it does so much more. Palmer addresses several social issues (race, class, alcoholism, misogyny, marital relations, friendship, parenting, dating, etc.) with grace and finesse without being heavy-handed or preachy.

There's not too much I can delve into without spoilers, but I think this will be
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Time Travel: Version Control: May 15-July 14, 2017 58 98 Aug 15, 2017 11:26AM  
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Go On Girl! Book...: About Dexter Palmer 1 2 Jul 02, 2017 07:16AM  
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  • Every Anxious Wave
  • Last Year
  • The Lost Time Accidents
  • Weighing Shadows
  • The Children of the Company (The Company, #6)
  • A Shortcut in Time (A Shortcut in Time, #1)
  • The Beautiful Land
  • The Flicker Men
  • Void Star
  • Children of the New World
  • I Still Dream
  • Tomorrow's Kin (Yesterday's Kin Trilogy, #1)
  • Collected Fiction
  • A Collapse of Horses
  • Glimpses
  • Dark Orbit
  • The Cusanus Game
  • Central Station
Dexter Palmer lives in Princeton, New Jersey. His first novel, The Dream of Perpetual Motion, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2010, and was selected as one of the best debuts of that year by Kirkus Reviews. His second, Version Control, was published by Pantheon Books in February 2016.

He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University, where he completed his dissertation on the
“Being is always becoming; people change and stay the same. What is true for bodies is also true for selves: even the most honest person has many faces, none of which are false.” 15 likes
“The thing about memories wasn't that many of them inevitably faded, but that repeated recall of the ones you remembered burnished them into shining, gorgeous lies” 12 likes
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